The journey of entrepreneurship is one that is full of many highs. It is truly empowering to wake up every day, knowing you are working on a endeavor you are 1000% invested in; one that you envisioned, designed, believe in fully, and are motivated by. Such as life however, the life of an entrepreneur also encompasses some lows. Moments of isolation, doubt, fear, and feeling like there are never enough hours to go through a productive day are all part of the reality. However, without the lows, the highs wouldn’t be as impactful in the journey towards real growth as a creative!
As I reflect on my journey of entrepreneurship and conversations I have had with other entrepreneurs, these have been very consistent 12 lessons learned and discussed along the way that I am excited to share with fellow entrepreneurs. It is my hope we continue to build with and uplift each other.
- You work MORE than 40 hours!
- You are working for someone else.
- You feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.
- Mental downtime is hard to come by but make it happen.
- You have to be flexible with yourself.
- You have to force yourself to unplug.
- Constantly do your research to stay relevant & be patient.
- Follow those who inspire you.
- You need your Lucky 8 Team:
- You have to forgive yourself.
- Have fun with your vision!
- Know your truths and speak your truths.
Continue reading for more depth on each lesson.
- You work MORE than 40 hours! Whether you are working full-time and your entrepreneurship endeavor is your “side hustle” or you are 100% focused on your entrepreneurship endeavor as you do it full-time, the work week is more than 40 hours at a time! There is always something you will want to do better, more of, see more of, present differently, explore more, develop a skillset in, build your team period or more with, find balance with, make income with, or change entirely. Regardless of your angle, the time invested is real and the journey for the entrepreneur who is looking to make it and build, needs to know that working more than 40 hours in a work week is a norm. In time, one may work less; but I find that even successful entrepreneurs who have successfully built an empire work, even when they are not physically in the office because there are no days off when you own your business!
- You are working for someone else. This one makes me chuckle all the time because I do not know how many times I have heard people say that they want to be an entrepreneur because they DO NOT want to work for someone else or they do not want to work for the white man. Listen, as an entrepreneur, you are and always will be working for someone and that someone is your clients, customers, and consumers (3C’s)! Yes, while you are in fact working for yourself, you are mostly working for your clients because your vision grows and is validated as you listen and pay attention to your audience. You might have an AMAZING idea, but if the people do not like it or want it, then your amazing idea may not go far. Your clients, customers, and consumers impact your work and it is important you UNDERSTAND the ins and out of your market!
- You feel lonely, even when surrounded by people. As an extroverted entrepreneur, this lesson was an odd one to come by. However, it is true that entrepreneurs are always in their heads! I know I am always asking myself questions, making check-lists, rearranging my plans/direction, meeting someone and thinking about how I can collaborate with them, wishing I did more in this moment, or did less in that moment, and so much more. And because we live in our heads, there are times when we are surrounded by people and we are thinking about our projects and not the precious moments we have to spend with them. Not to mention, sometimes we think that people don’t understand what we are going through or thinking so we rather not talk about them and retract because we do not know what to share about something SO important to us!
- Mental downtime is hard to come by but make it happen. While it is hard to turn your brain off, because as a creative you are always thinking and are inspired by so many elements of your environment, it is important to execute mental downtime. Encourage yourself to laugh more, sleep more without feeling guilty, meditate, take a walk, go to the gym, eat that desert, go to that play or movie, spend quality time with your loved one(s) in a meaningful way, and be fully present in your whereabouts. Seriously, at some point, we have to train our brains to stop or we’ll be drained doing “nothing.” Burn-out is real and so are mental breakdowns. So do right to yourself and know that although mental downtime is hard to come by, YOU NEED IT!
- You have to be flexible with yourself. It is imperative that you create short-term and long-term goals to keep you on track and develop a system of daily operation to get through your days effectively and with efficiency. It all takes discipline and consistency. However, with that comes the need for flexibility. Have you ever had a plan you were sure you wanted to stick to but your doubts, tight schedule, success, weather, family, friends, a colleague, your 3C’s, and all else caused you to see and have to proceed differently; but you were stubbornly reluctant to do so because the new direction is not what you envisioned? YOU HAVE TO BE FLEXIBLE! The universe will always align itself, but you have to listen and open your eyes to the signs.
- You have to force yourself to unplug. Unplugging deserves its own point because it just does! Social media is part of our lives in more ways than one. But, social media is not a fair representation of your worth-YOU ARE! Unplug and escape the fakest real world every once in a while. I know, FEAR OF MISSING OUT (FOMO) is real. But the moment when you are no longer obsessing over or trolling on other people-you can invest more time in yourself and the better so much in your life and world will be. Depending on where you are in your growth as an entrepreneur, you may be “popular” or not on social media. While a social media presence is where we are moving in today’s time, trust in your product and make sure that is always as great as it can be-the following will come. The trolling may get at your heartstrings and hurt your feelings as you build. And the subconscious comparisons to others are real. Unplug. Unwind. Refresh. Do it for yourself every once in a while, you deserve to be more than a metric and live life that way. The information you need to know will always find its way to you.
- Constantly do your research to stay relevant & be patient. Read up on your industry, what I call the 3C’s, social media trends, your allies and competitors, and those you aspire to be like. Learn, learn, and learn some more! Be patient as well because the more you learn, the more you will like to do but you CAN’T DO IT ALL AT ONCE! You have to pace yourself and be patient, trusting that can all happen, but it all DOES NOT need to happen right now.
- Follow those who inspire you! Those who inspire you will do just that, especially when you’re feeling low. Don’t just follow them though, take the time to understand WHAT IS IT about that person that inspires you? Is it their way with words, their fashion sense, their wit, their unapologetic nature, their balance of work and play, their faith, their family commitments, whatever it is; ask yourself what it is and WHY that inspires you? Doing so will assist you in finding your way and stay true to you and what a lovely feeling that is.
- You need your Lucky 8 Team: The journey of life is that much more special with a support system. Every person, especially an entrepreneur needs what I like to call the Lucky 8 Team (in no particular order): The Encourager, The Realist, The Optimist, The Pessimist, The Risk Taker, The Investor, The Connector, and The Blank Filler. While each person in your corner may be able to be all the above; it is most ideal if you have a person in your corner who is best at one of the above. The encourager will always be your hype person! The one that tells you to go for it all! They see no limits in the world for you. The realist will speak to you and always highlight the black and white sides of life and your vision with some grey. They are critical, but in a way that assesses where your vision and plan is aligned with where the world is as a whole. The optimist will always take your vision and see it on a grander scale, maybe even more grand than you yourself may see it-they bring your idea to a level unimaginable, despite the odds. Though they may have a bad reputation or line of credit; I believe the pessimist is also needed. You need the person who doubts it all because they allow you to reflect on all that may go wrong to problem solve ahead of time. The risk taker will do just that; empower your growth by pushing you to take risks and step into the world of the unknown. The investor will be prepared to invest in your dream. They will give you their time, access to their resources, and possibly financial support if needed. They believe in you so much that whatever you need, they are prepared to get their hands dirty with you. The connector will connect you to those you don’t know and help you hone in on relationships with people you might have just met. The connector knows someone who knows someone else if they don’t know that person themselves and they are not afraid of making the connections happen on your behalf. Lastly the blank filler is the person who sees your blind spots as they are detail oriented. They pay attention to the nitty gritty and won’t let it go because they know the importance of dotting those I’s and crossing those t’s. The Lucky 8 Team believes in you more than you know!
- You have to forgive yourself. You will make a lot of mistakes in life, especially in the life of entrepreneurship. Even with wonderful examples to live by, mistakes will happen because they are inevitable of taking place. Forgive yourself and give yourself the space to make mistakes because that is what you will always learn from. While you are your toughest critic, you also have to love yourself the most and be nice to who you are. Reflect on the challenges but don’t allow yourself to be defeated by them.
- Have fun with your vision! While the life of an entrepreneur is a lot of work, it should also be fun because you took a leap of faith on something you know you love and believe in. Trust in that! If you are no longer in love with your vision, it might be time to change something up.
- Know your truths and speak your truths. As an entrepreneur, people will always share what they think you should be doing and how you should be doing it. Take in their words, feedback, and critic; but always move forward knowing you are and always will be true to you because you believe in the decisions you are making and the direction you would like to go in.
To all the entrepreneurs out there, thank you for taking a chance on turning your dream into reality. It took a lot of planning and you took a risk to walk into a new world unknown-for every journey you undergo is unique to you but worth the living, loving, and trying. You are a living example to others to “Say Yes.” While the process may not be full of highs all of the time, you have persisted and it my hope that you will continue to persist.
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